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A public consultation published today reveals overwhelming support for plans that will secure the future of the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure.

Over 90% of responses received backed the proposals which aim to create a highly successful, financially sustainable and inclusive National College that provides high quality education and training to meet the needs of learners, sectoral partners and local communities and supports local, regional and national economic growth.

Contributions from the rail industry and education sector show significant support for the plans that will bring the new NCATI into the University of Birmingham group. Some responses highlighted the opportunities for joint working presented by the collaboration, as well as welcoming the link into the University’s expertise in railway research and education.

Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham, said: “The hugely positive response to the consultation demonstrates overwhelming support for our plans to bring NCATI into the University group and secure its future as an essential skills provider to the rail and transport industries. This means we can proceed with confidence to the next step in securing a successful future for NCATI.”

Sue Dare MBE, Interim Chief Executive of NCATI, added: “I would like to thank everyone who took time to respond to our consultation. We had an overwhelmingly positive response from stakeholders, with over 90% of respondents in support of the collaboration.

“The collaboration will enable NCATI to deliver a broader range of high-quality learning opportunities that will benefit the industry we serve, allowing learners to develop the skills needed in the sector, while working to become a financially stable college.”

NCATI will produce generations of highly skilled professionals to lead the UK’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce. It will provide a through-life learning opportunity supported by a full suite of railway, transport and broader infrastructure qualifications and competencies (Level 2 to Level 7) that meet national needs.

Chair of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy said: “We are delighted to see the plans for the new National College taking shape. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with NCATI and supporting the College and its students in building FE provision that puts employability at the centre of delivery and curriculum development. The national hub and spoke model will increase training capacity across the rail industry and allow Network Rail, and its suppliers, to access local pools of skilled individuals.”   

Neil Hayward, HS2 Ltd HR Director and National College Board Member, said: “The new National College will play a crucial role in upskilling students for the breadth of careers that HS2 and other major infrastructure and rail engineering projects are creating. With construction well underway on HS2 between London and Birmingham, and the recent approval of the extension of the line to Crewe, the number of opportunities for skilled individuals is increasing daily. We look forward to working collaboratively with NCATI to ensure HS2 fulfils its aim of leaving a lasting legacy in skills and engineering in the UK.”

The success of the consultation means the proposals can now move to the final approval stages. If given the go-ahead, the existing College will dissolve and all assets, rights and liabilities will transfer to a brand new further education college, which will be part of the University of Birmingham family.

There will be no immediate changes for staff or learners at the College. Current courses will continue, and prospective learners should apply for courses in the normal way. Recruitment is underway for a new Principal who provide inspirational leadership and help the College become a success.

For enquiries, please contact Susanne Davies, Director of Engagement at NCATI.

The public consultation was launched on 19 December 2020 and ran until 29 January 2021 to allow for the Christmas period. It was advertised in regional and national media, and directly to key stakeholders. A total of 74 responses were received; 91 per cent of which were positive about the proposals.

The National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure is an employer-led college created by the Government to help British students develop world-class skills. Built on two state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, the College opened its doors to students in October 2017 to provide the training for the high-tech engineers, managers, designers, apprentices and advanced manufacturing talent needed for the UK’s high-speed rail industry, as well as other major British infrastructure schemes.

The College has been funded and supported by the UK Government, the Department for Education, the Department for Transport, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the Institute for Apprenticeships, HS2 Ltd, Birmingham City Council, Doncaster Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, Sheffield City Region LEP, West Midlands Combined Authority and the Midlands Engine.

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

  • About the University’s railway engineering expertise:

    In the specific area of railway engineering and operations, which is at the heart of NCATI, the University is by far the largest provider of Level 6 and Level 7 education, with over 550 students registered in the UK and Singapore.

    The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) has an international reputation for translational research and education, and was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2017 for its international contribution to railway research and education.
  • About the University’s civic role:

    The University of Birmingham was founded as the UK’s first civic university, a university that would work in partnership with the city’s commerce and industry and deliver benefits for citizens that extend well beyond higher education, this remains core to our purpose.

    We are the only university to have opened our own secondary university training school dedicated to raising aspiration and achievement. The School, which was established in 2015 is a comprehensive non-selective institution with a highly diverse student population. This level of commitment is sector-leading, and we see this as a core element of our contribution to supporting young people from all backgrounds in the region. The experience that the University has gained in establishing the School has informed its decision to seek to lead and manage NCATI.

    Incorporating NCATI into the wider University of Birmingham group will allow us to deepen our civic engagement in the West Midlands, whilst establishing a presence in South Yorkshire.

    We will ensure the National College is able to provide opportunities to the greatest possible number of local residents with routes into further education and work. Key to this is a hub and spoke model which will enable high quality education to be delivered in collaboration with local partners throughout the UK.